August 1, 2009 by Josh Morgan
The front end of the wrecker truck began to wobble and gently lift off the ground as a four-ton shipping container was being hoisted onto the flatbed.
This was how the morning started for Adam Carrano, towing manager for Strollo Bros & Sons, Inc., dba Strollo’s Towing Service. On July 24, Carrano was scheduled to move an 8,000-pound shipping container from Guilford on the construction site of the future Guilford Commons to the University of New Haven campus in West Haven.
“We are hired to do a lot of container moves,” Carrano explained. “We don’t just tow cars, that’s for sure.”
The traffic was light heading down to Guilford on Interstate 95 but, after arriving to the construction site, the first hiccup of the day made itself clear, yet it wasn’t all that uncommon. The container was still loaded with materials such as small machinery, bags of concrete, and job site tools.
“This happens sometimes,” Carrano admitted, as workers gradually emptied out the 20-foot long container.
As soon as the container was bare, Carrano hooked two massive claws to the edge of the box, which were connected to a thick chain. The winch on the back of the flatbed truck hooked onto the center of the chain and began hoisting the immense container upwards. Getting the container on the back of the truck wasn’t as easy as hooking up the chain and hitting a button. Carrano was constantly fluctuating the angle and height of the bed, as well as the force being used to pull the container. When the shipping container made its way onto the bed, Carrano attached tie down straps to stop the container from shifting left or right. Also, he made sure to clean out all the dirt, rocks, and other debris that collected along the outside of the box over the past few months.
“We don’t want (the debris) flying off on the highway and cracking someone’s windshield,” he said.
The container’s location made it tricky to drive straight out, as there were a few dips and divots on the job site. Carrano said he had to take it easy on the way out, as a few tires could come off the ground and a rollover was a possibility if he were too aggressive. After leaving the construction site without incident, it was back on the Interstate to head to the University of New Haven to drop off the container.
“I am constantly checking my mirrors. It’s all I have to see,” Carrano said, noting that, with the container, the truck now weighed close to 28,000 pounds. “The saying ‘if you can’t see my mirrors I can’t see you’ is very true. If you don’t see them, I won’t be able to see you coming.”
The container had to be left inside a small fenced-off area near the faculty parking lot at the University. Together, the location of the fence and the angle of Carrano’s truck almost made a T shape, but somehow, he was able to finagle the truck, and container, into position without hitting a thing. Getting out proved to be another challenge, as the shipping container was taking up precious room in the fenced in area.
“If that fence wasn’t there, we’d be all set,” Carrano said. “I got it in there, so I should be able to get out, you would think.”
Carrano said the “worst part” of being a tow truck operator is the “other drivers on the road.” He said, when he is making a tow, he always has to watch out for “rubbernecking” drivers who are trying to see an accident. A few times, Carrano admitted, he has had to jump onto the wrecker or over the hood of the car because a motorist was passing too closely.
“I had a small hole in one of my pant legs and I jumped out of the way of a car driving by, and I ripped the leg off my pants completely,” Carrano said. “It’s a dangerous part of the job.”
Carrano also responds to local accidents when vehicles need to be towed from the scene. He said you “never know” what to expect when pulling up to an accident, but he explained that the Cheshire Police and Fire departments are usually pretty good about letting him know what type of accident it is and how severe the damage is.
“They are good to us,” Carrano said. “They want those cars removed just as fast as we do.”
After leaving the University of New Haven, it was back to Cheshire to finish out the day, and after three hours of being on the road and moving a large load, Carrano would have enjoyed a bit of downtime, but it wasn’t in the cards this day.
Almost immediately after arriving back at Strollo’s garage on West Main Street, a call for a bulldozer stuck in the mud came in. Carrano and other employees at Strollo’s were going to have to use a variety of different equipment to get the bulldozer unstuck.
Carrano left the flatbed wrecker behind and hopped into a 40,000-pound tow truck with multiple winches. After arriving at the site in the north end of Cheshire, it was discovered that the small bulldozer was in a hole approximately five feet deep that was filled with a foot of water, making the tow even more difficult. To complicate matters further, a small piece of equipment had died almost directly in front of the bulldozer and needed to be moved off to the side. Also arriving on the scene was a Strollo’s dump truck with a large trailer that carried an excavator. Carrano wasn’t sure if the bulldozer could be towed right out, or if the excavator would have to be used to dig down to free the equipment.
Within a matter of a few minutes, Carrano had rigged up nylon straps and chains to the small, 800-pound piece of equipment that needed to be moved. The excavator pulled double duty and, with chains attached to its big digging bucket, hoisted the small equipment and swung it off to the side, out of the way of the stuck bulldozer.
Then, a series of chains and straps were connected to the back of the colossal tow truck and slowly, yet surely, the bulldozer was yanked out of the muck and back onto solid ground. But, the day wasn’t over just yet.
The ground at the site was incredibly soft and the dump truck and trailer started to get stuck in the grass. Not wanting to destroy the person’s property, the tow truck then connected to the dump truck and trailer and carefully pulled the equipment across the yard without doing any damage.
It was around 2 p.m. and Carrano still had a few hours left in his day. He headed back to the garage, where he would take a look at a few cars, perform some routine maintenance on the trucks, and, if needed, do some fabrication. Strollo’s is also an AAA garage, and calls for getting keys out of locked vehicles, jump-starts, and routine tows come at all times. Carrano said the irregularity of each day is the best part of the job.
“The job is so unpredictable, you never know when the phone is going to ring,” Carrano said. “Nothing is ever the same, it’s always a little bit different.”
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Nice Profile of CT Tow Operator
From The Cheshire Herald:
Posted by Cyndi Kight, Associate Editor of Towing & Recovery Footnotes at 11:25 AM